Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese vowed to make the nation a “renewable superpower” after beating incumbent Scott Morrison, whose own policies had been widely criticised as holding back one of the world’s most promising green energy markets.
Albanese’s Labor party secured enough seats in the nation's general election to beat Morrison’s Coalition, and while counting continued to see if it can secure an outright majority it has enough support to govern in a parliament that will see a strong showing by Australia’s Greens and independents eager for more climate action.
“Together we can end the climate wars. Together we can take advantage of the opportunity for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower,” the new Prime Minister said in his victory speech.
Labor campaigned on a plan to cut Australia’s emissions by 43% by 2030 that was far more ambitious than the Coalition’s 26-28% goal, promising renewables-friendly policies including an A$20bn ($14bn) investment in the nation’s transmission network.
The party’s manifesto said it wants renewables to account for 82% of power in Australia’s main National Electricity Market by the end of the decade. Renewables currently account for about one-third of national generation.
A green-friendly federal government is likely to be a big shot in the arm for an Australian renewable energy sector that even under a Morrison government and its lukewarm-at-best support has established itself as a global hotspot, thanks to excellent natural resources, supportive state governments and the enthusiasm for the energy transition of business leaders such as mining tycoon Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest, whose giant schemes have regularly been reported by Recharge.
Australia is home to some of the world’s most ambitious green hydrogen projects, including the 26GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub that is reportedly a major investment target for BP.
The nation has also made the first moves to embrace offshore wind, with landmark legislation to underpin development of the sector passing last year and a clutch of major project plans announced since.
Amanda McKenzie, CEO of Australian campaign group the Climate Council, said the Morrison government’s lack of serious action over green issues had come back to haunt it after almost a decade in power.
“Climate concerned voters in the cities, suburbs and regions of Australia had unleashed their fury and frustration at almost a decade of climate inaction at a federal level.
“Over almost nine years’ in office, the Liberal-National [Coalition] government’s approach to climate action ranged from inadequate to non-existent. Australians are paying a heavy price for that, and they have made their feelings known.”